Connect with us

Latest

Analysis

News

The Coming Franco-German Bust-Up

The Euroskeptics’ main opponents are not politicians in their own countries, but rather Macron and Merkel.

The Duran

Published

on

1,059 Views

Authored by Mark Leonard via Project Syndicate:


The partnership at the center of European integration is unraveling just when Euroskeptic forces are coming together. If French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel cannot start rebuilding the political center, next year’s European Parliament election will produce the biggest victory yet for anti-EU populists.

The politics of Brexit is descending into chaos. The European Union is fragmenting into northern, southern, eastern, and western tribes. And now the Franco-German marriage at the center of the European project is in danger of falling apart.

In May 2017, when German Chancellor Angela Merkel and newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron met for the first time, many hoped for a renewal of vows. Crowds of pro-European well-wishers urged them on. Macron, the fresh-faced reformer, seemed to have a Midas-like political touch. And Merkel was at the height of her power on the international stage, having been deemed the new “leader of the free world,” supplanting the “very stable genius” in the White House, Donald Trump.

Quoting the German author Hermann Hesse, Merkel observed that, “There is magic in every beginning,” but added a caveat: “The magic lasts only when there are results.”

Eighteen months later, the magic most certainly has not lasted. Merkel has now handed over the leadership of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and will not seek another term as chancellor. And Macron, far from walking on water, has been trying not to drown in a sea of yellow-vested protesters.

As both leaders’ political stars have waned, so, too, have the prospects for a renewed Franco-German relationship. Just when Macron was placing his hopes in Merkel’s power to lead at the European level, her grip on domestic power was slipping. After the German federal election in September 2017, Merkel struggled for six months to form a government. She did not want to form a minority government, and the remaining opposition parties didn’t particularly want to govern with her.

But the real damage to Merkel’s power came from within. Leading politicians in the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), have attacked Merkel’s decision to welcome Syrian refugees in 2015, and even cozied up to some of her sworn enemies, not least Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, and Matteo Salvini, the Italian deputy prime minister and interior minister. These populists and their CSU sympathizers have used immigration as a wedge issue to attack Merkel.

Macron, meanwhile, has sought to make French renewal synonymous with European renewal. Since coming to power, he has pursued a new grand bargain with Germany. In exchange for France finally getting a grip on its finances and reforming its public sector and labor market, Germany would back Macron’s proposals to deepen EU and eurozone integration, including a joint eurozone budget, an EU finance ministry, and more unified foreign and defense policies.

Though Merkel recently agreed to a joint budget in principle, many in France now suspect that Macron has been duped. Early in his presidency, he introduced a series of unpopular measures, slashing the wealth tax and cutting social benefits. More recently, he rolled out a fuel-tax increase to keep this year’s deficit below 3% of GDP,in the process unleashing the sea of yellow vests now laying siege to his administration.

In response, Germany has offered Macron essentially nothing. It has dragged its feet on completing a banking union and introducing eurozone investment bonds, and has paid only lip service to the idea of a joint budget. Even on defense policy, which could serve as a stand-in for meaningful economic reforms, Germany has put up resistance, watering down EU proposals for an “avant-garde” grouping and balking at Macron’s proposed European Intervention Initiative (EI2).

The next few months will almost certainly deliver more disappointments for Macron, and possibly even a Franco-German bust-up. After all, at a recent meeting of EU finance ministers, Germany struck yet another blow against Macron by watering down his proposal for a new digital tax on tech giants such as Google and Facebook.Though the proposal had broad support, the Germans worried that the US would retaliate against their auto industry.

Moreover, there is speculation that the Bundeswehr will replace its outdated Tornado fighter planes with American F-35s instead of a European-made equivalent. With the German Air Force already indicating that the F-35 is its preferred choice, Airbus CEO Dirk Hoke recently warned that, “As soon as Germany becomes a F-35 nation, all cooperation with France on combat jet issues will die.”

France and Germany are falling out just when anti-European forces are coming together. With an eye toward the European Parliament election in May, Orbán and Salvini are actively working to create a populist federation that includes both the anti-austerity left and the anti-immigrant right. Their goal is to capture at least a third of parliamentary seats, as well as a blocking minority on the European Council.

The Euroskeptics’ main opponents are not politicians in their own countries, but rather Macron and Merkel. And the problem for Macron and Merkel is that they cannot necessarily count on French and German voters to support them in leading EU reforms. Indeed, far from seeing Merkel as a brake on deeper integration, many Germans regard her as overly pro-European. As for Macron, he may be the most pro-European French president in decades, but he could find himself in the position of having to run against EU budget rules that are standing in the way of his domestic reforms.

The danger now is that Macron and Merkel will be lured into singing along to Salvini and Orbán’s tune. Their task is to avoid that trap and find a way to reinvent the political center, before it is too late.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Advertisement
2 Comments

2
Leave a Reply

avatar
1 Comment threads
1 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
2 Comment authors
penrosePaddy Jameson Power Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Paddy Jameson Power
Guest
Paddy Jameson Power

Why is it a danger to “sing along with Orban and Salvani’s tune”? Please enlighten us as to why you think this is a disaster. The way I see it, their agenda can only be good for the people, rather than the elite, of the EU.

penrose
Guest
penrose

I’ll say. The EU needs to go the way of the Dodo bird. Long live Orban, Salvani, and all of the anti-EU activists.

Latest

Macron cuts ski holiday short, vowing crack down on Yellow Vests (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 109.

Alex Christoforou

Published

on

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the 18th consecutive week of Yellow Vests protests in Paris. Following last weeks lower participation, Saturday’s Yellow Vests in Paris gathered larger crowds, with various outbreaks of violence and rioting that has been blamed on extreme elements, who French authorities claim have infiltrated the movement.

“Act XVIII” of the protests has shown that the Yellow Vests have not given up. France’s Champs-Élysées boulevard was where most of the violence occurred, with the street being left in a pile of broken glass and flames.

One day after Paris was set ablaze, French President Emmanuel Macron cut his ski holiday short, returning to Paris and vowing to take “strong decisions” to prevent more violence.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Follow The Duran Audio Podcast on Soundcloud.

Via Zerohedge


Paris awoke on Sunday to smouldering fires, broken windows and looted stores following the 18th consecutive Saturday of Yellow Vest protests.

Around 200 people were arrested according to BFM TV, while about 80 shops near the iconic Champs Elysees had been damaged and/or looted according to AFP, citing Champs Elysees committee president Jean-Noel Reinhardt.

The 373-year-old Saint Sulpice Roman Catholic church was set on fire while people were inside, however nobody was injured. The cause of the fire remains unknown.

The riots were so severe that French President Emmanuel Macron cut short a vacation at the La Mongie ski resort in the Hautes-Pyrénées following a three-day tour of East Africa which took him to Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Macron skied on Friday, telling La Depeche du Midi “I’m going to spend two-three days here to relax, to find landscapes and friendly faces,” adding “I’m happy to see the Pyrenees like that, radiant, although I know it was more difficult at Christmas” referring to the lack of snow in December.

In response to Saturday’s violence, Macron said over Twitter that “strong decisions” were coming to prevent more violence.

Macron said some individuals — dubbed “black blocs” by French police forces — were taking advantage of the protests by the Yellow Vest grassroots movement to “damage the Republic, to break, to destroy.” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Twitter that those who excused or encouraged such violence were complicit in it. –Bloomberg

The French President has family ties in the Hautes-Pyrénées, including Bagnères de Bigorre where his grandmother lived. He is a regular visitor to the region.

Emmanuel Macron (2ndL), head of the political movement In Marche! (Onwards!) And candidate for the 2017 presidential election, and his wife Brigitte Trogneux (L) have lunch April 12, 2017 (Reuters)

 

 

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

Vesti calls out Pompeo on lying about Russia invading Ukraine [Video]

Secretary Pompeo displayed either stunning ignorance or a mass-attack of propaganda about what must be the most invisible war in history.

Seraphim Hanisch

Published

on

After the 2014 Maidan revolution and the subsequent secessions of Lugansk and Donetsk in Ukraine, and after the rejoining of Crimea with its original nation of Russia, the Western media went on a campaign to prove the Russia is (/ was / was about to / had already / might / was thinking about / was planning to … etc.) invade Ukraine. For the next year or so, about every two weeks, internet news sources like Yahoo! News showed viewers pictures of tanks, box trucks and convoys to “prove” that the invasion was underway (or any of the other statuses confirming the possibilities above stated.) This information was doubtless provided to US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

Apparently, Secretary Pompeo believed this ruse, or is being paid to believe this ruse because in a speech recently, he talked about it as fact:

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Russia’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine an attempt to gain access to Ukraine’s oil and gas reserves.

He stated this at IHS Markit’s CERAWeek conference in Houston, the USA, Reuters reports.

Pompeo urged the oil industry to work with the Trump administration to promote U.S. foreign policy interests, especially in Asia and in Europe, and to punish what he called “bad actors” on the world stage.

The United States has imposed harsh sanctions in the past several months on two major world oil producers, Venezuela and Iran.

Pompeo said the U.S. oil-and-gas export boom had given the United States the ability to meet energy demand once satisfied by its geopolitical rivals.

“We don’t want our European allies hooked on Russian gas through the Nord Stream 2 project, any more than we ourselves want to be dependent on Venezuelan oil supplies,” Pompeo said, referring to a natural gas pipeline expansion from Russia to Central Europe.

Pompeo called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine an attempt to gain access to the country’s oil and gas reserves.

Although the state-run news agency Vesti News often comes under criticism for rather reckless, or at least, extremely sarcastic propaganda at times, here they rightly nailed Mr. Pompeo’s lies to the wall and billboarded it on their program:

The news anchors even made a wisecrack about one of the political figures, Konstantin Zatulin saying as a joke that Russia plans to invade the United States to get its oil. They further noted that Secretary Pompeo is uneducated about the region and situation, but they offered him the chance to come to Russia and learn the correct information about what is going on.

To wit, Russia has not invaded Ukraine at all. There is no evidence to support such a claim, while there IS evidence to show that the West is actively interfering with Russia through the use of Ukraine as a proxyWhile this runs counter to the American narrative, it is simply the truth. Ukraine appears to be the victim of its own ambitions at this point, for while the US tantalizes the leadership of the country and even interferes with the Orthodox Church in the region, the country lurches towards a presidential election with three very poor candidates, most notably the one who is president there now, Petro Poroshenko.

However, the oil and gas side of the anti-Russian propaganda operation by the US is significant. The US wishes for Europe to buy gas from American suppliers, even though this is woefully inconvenient and expensive when Russia is literally at Europe’s doorstep with easy supplies. However, the Cold War Party in the United States, which still has a significant hold on US policy making categorizes the sale of Russia gas to powers like NATO ally Germany as a “threat” to European security.

It is interesting that Angela Merkel herself does not hold this line of thinking. It is also interesting and worthy of note, that this is not the only NATO member that is dealing more and more with Russia in terms of business. It underscores the loss of purpose that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization suffers now since there is no Soviet Union to fight.

However, the US remains undaunted. If there is no enemy to fight, the Americans feel that they must create one, and Russia has been the main scapegoat for American power ambitions. More than ever now, this tactic appears to be the one in use for determining the US stance towards other powers in the world.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

Ariel Cohen explains Washington’s latest foreign policy strategy [Video]

Excellent interview Ariel Cohen and Vladimir Solovyov reveals the forces at work in and behind American foreign policy.

Seraphim Hanisch

Published

on

While the American people and press are pretty much complicit in reassuring the masses that America is the only “right” superpower on earth, and that Russia and China represent “enemy threats” for doing nothing more than existing and being successfully competitive in world markets, Russia Channel One got a stunner of a video interview with Ariel Cohen.

Who is Ariel Cohen? Wikipedia offers this information about him:

Ariel Cohen (born April 3, 1959 in Crimea in YaltaUSSR) is a political scientist focusing on political risk, international security and energy policy, and the rule of law.[1] Cohen currently serves as the Director of The Center for Energy, Natural Resources and Geopolitics (CENRG) at the Institute for Analysis of Global Security (IAGS). CENRG focuses on the nexus between energy, geopolitics and security, and natural resources and growth. He is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, within the Global Energy Center and the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center.[2] Until July 2014, Dr. Cohen was a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. He specializes in Russia/Eurasia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.

Cohen has testified before committees of the U.S. Congress, including the Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees, the House Armed Services Committee, the House Judiciary Committee and the Helsinki Commission.[4] He also served as a Policy Adviser with the National Institute for Public Policy’s Center for Deterrence Analysis.[5] In addition, Cohen has consulted for USAID, the World Bank and the Pentagon.[6][7]

Cohen is a frequent writer and commentator in the American and international media. He has appeared on CNN, NBC, CBS, FOX, C-SPAN, BBC-TV and Al Jazeera English, as well as Russian and Ukrainian national TV networks. He was a commentator on a Voice of America weekly radio and TV show for eight years. Currently, he is a Contributing Editor to the National Interest and a blogger for Voice of America. He has written guest columns for the New York TimesInternational Herald TribuneChristian Science Monitor, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, EurasiaNet, Valdai Discussion Club,[8] and National Review Online. In Europe, Cohen’s analyses have appeared in Kommersant, Izvestiya, Hurriyet, the popular Russian website Ezhenedelny Zhurnal, and many others.[9][10]

Mr. Cohen came on Russian TV for a lengthy interview running about 17 minutes. This interview, shown in full below, is extremely instructive in illustrating the nature of the American foreign policy directives such as they are at this time.

We have seen evidence of this in recent statements by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regarding Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine, and an honestly unabashed bit of fear mongering about China’s company Huawei and its forthcoming 5G networks, which we will investigate in more detail in another piece. Both bits of rhetoric reflect a re-polished narrative that, paraphrased, says to the other world powers,

Either you do as we tell you, or you are our enemy. You are not even permitted to out-compete with us in business, let alone foreign relations. The world is ours and if you try to step out of place, you will be dealt with as an enemy power.

This is probably justified paranoia, because it is losing its place. Where the United Stated used to stand for opposition against tyranny in the world, it now acts as the tyrant, and even as a bully. Russia and China’s reaction might be seen as ignoring the bully and his bluster and just going about doing their own thing. It isn’t a fight, but it is treating the bully with contempt, as bullies indeed deserve.

Ariel Cohen rightly points out that there is a great deal of political inertia in the matter of allowing Russia and China to just do their own thing. The US appears to be acting paranoid about losing its place. His explanations appear very sound and very reasonable and factual. Far from some of the snark Vesti is often infamous for, this interview is so clear it is tragic that most Americans will never see it.

The tragedy for the US leadership that buys this strategy is that they appear to be blinded so much by their own passion that they cannot break free of it to save themselves.

This is not the first time that such events have happened to an empire. It happened in Rome; it happened for England; and it happened for the shorter-lived empires of Nazi Germany and ISIS. It happens every time that someone in power becomes afraid to lose it, and when the forces that propelled that rise to power no longer are present. The US is a superpower without a reason to be a superpower.

That can be very dangerous.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

JOIN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Your donations make all the difference. Together we can expose fake news lies and deliver truth.

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Advertisement

Advertisement

Quick Donate

The Duran
EURO
DONATE
Donate a quick 10 spot!
Advertisement
Advertisement

Advertisement

The Duran Newsletter

Trending